When we venture out on field trips, our kids get first hand experiences that a book can never mimic. At the same time, homeschool field trips can be stressful, time consuming, and sometimes expensive. Weather is an added factor to consider with outdoor events such as a Civil War re-enactment.
One alternative to packing snacks, loading the van, and buying tickets is the virtual field trip. These online explorations can awaken your child’s love of American history. Besides supplementing your American history curriculum, virtual field trips also provide a way for your child to explore places that may be inaccessible.
If you want to spice up your study of American history, look at these 32 virtual trips and a list of easy ways to enhance them.
Life in Early America and Cowboys
- Plimoth Plantation Virtual Field Trips
- Explore an 1860’s farm
- National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon
- Hudson River Museum
- Learn about the Alcotts and tour Orchard House
- Tour the house of Betsy Ross
- Historic Philadelphia Virtual Tour
- Monticello – Home of Thomas Jefferson
- Virtual Jamestown
- Castle Rock - pueblos of Colorado
- Oglala Lakota Nation Pow Wow
- Virtual trip to Georgia Indian Mounds
American Revolutionary War
Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail
American Civil War
- Ford’s Theatre – Remembering Lincoln’s Assassination
- Virtual Gettysburg
- Andersonville Prison also known as Sumter Prisoner, a large Confederate prison
Immigration, World War II, and Modern American History
- Virtual field trip to Ellis Island
- Museum of World War II
- Remembering Pearl Harbor – Attack Map
- Tour the Statue of Liberty
- Virtual Capitol
- Mount Rushmore
- On Board Air Force One
- Virtual field trip to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home in Georgia (Warm Springs)
- Supreme Court Virtual Tour
Ways to Enhance a Virtual Field Trip
Virtual field trips can be just as enriching and interactive as a physical one as long as you plan ahead. For example, print out a notebooking page or prepare a scavenger hunt for kids to fill out. Many websites provide these kinds of helps in the educational resources section of the domain. Do a little hunting prior to your virtual visit to make the most of any freebies the site offers. Some children may like to work as they explore while others will want to totally immerse themselves in the experience and make notes only after the field trip is over.
To make sure your virtual field trip doesn't become a passive affair, incorporate a hands-on activity before or after. Not sure what do do? There are ideas listed below, but the field trip itself will likely offer you plenty of ideas for further exploration. What do your kids seem enamored by? What do they keep asking about? Those are areas for interest-led research. Your project may lead to questions which are answered by the virtual field trip. Or your virtual field trip may lead to fascination that is satisfied by making hands-on models or reading additional books.
- Before you tour the 1860s farm, make butter in a jar or beeswax candles.
Print out a copy of a ship or submarine and have your children label the parts. Learn about early navigation and how sailors navigated without modern tracking equipment. Make an easy homemade compass.
If you’re viewing the Supreme Court field trip, your children can memorize and recite the Miranda Warning or review the steps of how a bill is passed.
After viewing Plimoth plantation, have your children make a craft of the Mayflower and create a diary that looks vintage.
After viewing Mount Rushmore, your children can carve the faces in soap or playdough.
Make a cookie dough map of the Oregon Trail or Lewis and Clark Trail.
Make a timeline of the events of the American Revolutionary War. It’s been said that George Washington was an excellent dancer. Learn his favorite dance, the Minuet.
Learn about early American cattle drives.
Listen to American Civil War music or read letters written during that time period.
Preserve plants in a nature notebook while learning about Lewis and Clark.
Research the physics behind dropping a bomb before viewing Pearl Harbor. Make vegetable soup and learn about rationing after viewing the World War II museum.
Experiencing virtual field trips has become an essential part of our home education journey; the internet opens up dozens of ways to approach American history. Take the extra time to organize activities along with virtual field trip, and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.
About the Author
Tina Robertson celebrated the graduation of Mr. Senior in 2013 and Mr. Awesome in 2015. Because of her love for new homeschoolers, she mentors moms through her unique program called New Bee Homeschoolers. She loves all homeschoolers, though, as she shares her free 7 Step Curriculum Planner, unit studies, lapbooks and homeschooling how tos. She can't sing, dance, or craft, but she counts organizing as a hobby. She is still in the homeschool trenches blogging at Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus.